Yo-yo dieting isn’t so bad after all.
Ten years ago there was lots of hand-wringing in the medical community about the potential dire physical consequences of “weight cycling” - also known as yo-yo dieting. You know, lose a bunch of weight, gain it back, lose it again, gain it back, etc.
Then you didn’t hear so much about it. It was a bit of a fad. Like “detoxing,” although certainly more legitimate.
A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported on the cardiovascular and mortality effects of yo-yo dieting in women in the massive Nurses’ Health Study. One in four of these women could be classified as weight cyclers. The worst ones were defined as those who lost at least 9.1 kg ( 20 pounds) at least three times.
It turns out the weight cyclers had the same rates of death from cardiovascular disease or any cause as the women who didn’t cycle. They did eventually gain more overall weight as they aged, compared to the non-cyclers.
Note that this study investigated death rates only. So there may have been effects on rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, gout, stroke, etc, that we wouldn’t know about.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Field, Alison, et al. Weight cycling and mortality among middle-aged or older women. Archives of Internal Medicine, 169 (2009): 881-886.